We, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) are so proud to share wonderful news. On Monday 13 October 2014, at a ceremony in Central London, Diana Nammi, our Founder and Executive Director, was honoured with the Woman of the Year award 2014 for her work to protect the rights of Middle Eastern and North African women and to end “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence.
Diana has dedicated her life to campaigning for women’s rights. She became aware of injustices faced by women in her home country, Kurdistan, Iran as a young girl, when she attended a family wedding and the bride, who was accused of not being a virgin, was threatened with death. As she grew older she realised that “honour” based violence and inequality were the norm and many times she asked herself “why love, this beautiful emotion, must be so hated?”
Compelled to challenge this, at 15 she set up an underground women’s group and she became an active member of an opposition party. After the Islamists took power following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, she narrowly escaped arrest and fled to the mountains to join the Peshmerga, Kurdish freedom fighters. Earning respect from her comrades, she assumed a leading role and for twelve years she travelled across Kurdistan in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, defending the rights of women and girls. Her work was dangerous, but extremely rewarding and contributed to positive changes for the lives of women and girls and the women’s movement. On becoming pregnant she decided that she had to find a safe place to raise her unborn child.
Diana now lives in the UK and in 2002 she founded the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) an NGO providing advice, advocacy, training and counselling for women and girls from Middle Eastern and North African affected by “honour” based violence, forced marriage, FGM and domestic violence, and campaigning for better laws and policies. Last year IKWRO assisted over 780 clients face to face and gave advice to over 2500 clients and professionals over the telephone. Diana’s work has broken the silence on the taboo of “honour” based violence and one of her stand out achievements was securing the first ever extradition of “honour” killing murderers from the Kurdish region of Iraq through the Justice for Banaz campaign.
Diana’s work has received national and international recognition and she is regularly called upon to share her expertise with the government, academics, the media and professionals. In 2007 Eve magazine awarded her the Eve Heroines honour, in 2012 she was named in a list of 150 women who shake the world by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and in 2014 she received the Special Jury Women on the Move Award from UNHCR, The Forum and Migrants Rights Network.
In response to winning the Barclays Women of the Year Award Diana said;
‘I am deeply touched and honoured to be recognised as one of the Women of the Year, in the company of such inspirational women. This will shine a light on the vital work that my wonderful team, IKWRO is doing; working with survivors of “honour” based violence to enable them to recognise that they are heroines, not victims, and that all shame and dishonour lies with the perpetrators.
As a Kurdish-Iranian woman, who fought as a Peshmerga (freedom fighter), for women’s rights and equality, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Peshmerga women who are today at the frontline, trying to prevent fundamentalists from returning us to the dark ages. I also remember all those women and girls whose lives have been stolen through “honour” killing and those who have been robbed of their rights by forced and child marriage and FGM.
The challenges before us are huge but our movement is strong and this award will give us greater strength.
Media information, interviews, briefings:
Sara Browne: 020 7920 6460, 07739 308 398
Follow us on Twitter: @IKWRO & www.facebook.com/IKWRO
The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) is a registered charity which was founded in 2002 and provides advice, support, referral and advocacy services to Middle Eastern and North African women and girls who are facing “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse. We deliver training, advise professionals and campaign for better laws, policies and implementation. Last year we assisted over 780 women and girls face to face and we advised over 2500 women and girls and professionals over the telephone. Each year we recognise those who take a stand against “honour” based violence in our True Honour Awards and we are in the process of setting up the first UK refuge for Middle Eastern women, for which we are fundraising.
Women of the Year Lunch & Awards
Women of the Year has recognised, celebrated and inspired women of all backgrounds since 1955 and continues to shine a light on extraordinary women through an annual lunch, lecture and on-going foundation work.
The Women of the Year Lunch was founded in 1955 by the late Tony Lothian OBE, Odette Hallowes and Lady Georgina Coleridge, with the aim of bringing together women from all walks of life and celebrating their achievements. This year’s Women of the Year Lunch will be held on Monday 13 October 2014 at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. www.womenoftheyear.co.uk